HDF, for your sake, get it right

It is commonly believed from recent history that Kauai lies in a more vulnerable position than the other islands. However, in his recent analysis of Hawaiian hurricanes, Dr. Tom Schroeder of the University of Hawaii, meteorology department, concludes that every island has been affected by hurricanes and that no island is without risk. 

The randomness of nature plays a key role in which islands are at highest risk during any given hurricane. In 1988, Hurricane Uleki was poised to hit Oahu or Maui but passed to the south. Hurricane Iniki in 1992, could have hit Oahu or missed the islands altogether, but instead tracked right over Kauai.

One of the most significant factors protecting adjoining areas from pollution or overrun from effluent ponds is the gallon capacity of the ponds. Federal regulations have guidelines and compliance expectations that must be meet. Serious questions have been raised and Department of Health has sent Hawaii Dairy Farm back to the drawing board for a redo of their effluent ponds capacity. The size and manner of construction is predicated on many factors, but the most prominent is the history of weather events that would create a breach of the ponds. 

One has both a natural and professional desire to believe what a scientific data based proposal contains. You do not expect a partial analysis nor a skirting of the expectation by a play on words nor do you expect to find a disregard of the rigorous research demanded in such matters.

It is expected that a justification of pond size be predicated on spillage both from the daily operation of the dairy process of waste water, manure urine particles and from the weather-related events that can occur, which add significantly to what is being stored. A 24-hour, 100-year review of storm participation was offered as proof of compliance by HDF spokeswoman Amy Hennessey (Jan. 21, TGI) 

“Our farm’s effluent ponds are designed beyond the requires size to accommodate a 24-hour 100 year rain event,” she said.

Just taking the high points of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data from 1950 until 2000 (50 years) will point out how much defining data was ignored or left out by HDF. Specific to Kauai: there was Hurricane Hiki in 1950 with 52 inches falling in four days, Nina in 1957 with 20 inches of rainfall in 14 hours, Dot in 1959, with the eye directly over Kauai, Iwa in 1982 with all gauges down, listed as heavy rain, Iniki In 1992 with all gauges down, listed as heavy rain. 

If anything was left standing, including dairy cows, these hurricanes would have filled the ponds and quickly brought them to an overflowing, runoff stage. The unpredictable direction of hurricanes and tropical storms is a meteorologist’s nightmare. In just 43 years between, 1950 and 1993, there were 25 hurricanes that hit the islands, an additional 33 tropical storm rain events occurred statewide. Keep in mind that only on the first day of the dairy beginning will the ponds be empty and that emptying them when a rain event is approaching only empties to a larger area that will shortly be saturated. Likely, after a hurricane arrives or tropical comes, there will be a power outage, and as most of the farm soil will already be saturated to the point of flooding, it couldn’t effectively take in additional effluent.

The inability of most of the soil to percolate, the limited capacity of the ponds to hold a true measure of what rainfall could bring, and the sustained and periodic rain events which last for days or weeks will create an uncontrolled release of polluted matter. Knowing that fact, and that other rain events have been left out of the HDF proposal, it becomes a mystery of why and for what reason would such information not be given due consideration.

If anything, the truth would be helpful for their understanding of project viability. A manure and urine laden spillage on everything below the dairy would bring significant and lasting damage, and you can’t legally do that with impunity, in ignorance, nor in good faith.

Ronald John is a resident of San Luis Obispo, California.


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